Waxwork (7/10)


A waxworks opens in the middle of a suburban neighborhood for some reason. A group of twenty-something trust-fund losers get invited to visit after hours by the owner, the always excellent David Warner. When the arrive, they are greeted at the door by a midget best described as a white version of Tattoo. Left to explore the disturbingly realistic tableau, they are soon drawn, one by one, into the scenes, and find they are even more real than they appear.

First off, this is not to be confused with Haris Pilton Paris Hilton’s House of Wax from 2005. This is, in fact, a fun little film from the Golden Age of Horror, that wonderful decade known as “The 80s”. The bulk of this movie is taken up with the trust fund kiddos exploring, being trapped in, and, for some of them, dying in little vignettes that reference classic horror monsters like the mummy, the wolfman, and even a nice black and white homage to The Night of the Living Dead. By far the most memorable vignette is the super-hot scene with Deborah Foreman’s character falling victim to the Marquis de Sade. While this is certainly far from the best of the 80s, it’s reasonably entertaining and worth a watch. Recommended.

The Good Neighbor (8/10)

mv5bmje4mdkwntu1nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwotmwmdg2ote-_v1_

A couple of teenage douchebags decide to conduct an “experiment” on their cranky old neighbor (perfectly portrayed by James Caan) by outfitting his house with surveillance cameras and electronic gizmos designed to make him believe he is being haunted. Unfortunately, he’s already haunted by his past, and things absolutely do not go as planned.

This is definitely a “the less you know, the better” type of movie, so I’m not going to give any more detail on the plot. Suffice it to say, this is more of a multi-layered drama than a horror movie, and it is very successful in what it sets out to achieve. Highly recommended. And James Caan is freakin’ excellent.

An American Ghost Story [aka Revenant] (6/10)

mv5bmjawodqzmteymf5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtc0mzeyoa-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

An under-employed writer (in other words, a writer), girlfriend in tow, moves into a house where a man slaughtered his family and then killed himself. The author hopes to meet the house-ghosts and write a book about it.

The ghosts show up, are very friendly, tell him everything he needs, he writes the book and makes millions of dollars, and marries his reasonably attractive girlfriend. The End.

Haha, not really! Actually, the ghosts rearrange the furniture and attack the reasonably attractive girlfriend with the kitchen cabinets, so she moves out, leaving our sad writer all alone in the ghost-house. After that, he starts wandering around the house, talking to disembodied voices of kids, and playing with stuffed animals.

So, this is a very simple, super-low-budget, single-location movie without a lot of action or special effects, at least until the end. It does establish a good story and spooky atmosphere, and pays off pretty well at the end with some simple, but well-done, practical effects. And, for once, it’s not found footage, which is a nice plus. No boobage, reasonably attractive or otherwise. Overall, pretty slow for most of the run, but not a bad watch.

Infernal (7/10)

mv5bmtkxotayndy2n15bml5banbnxkftztgwmdixmdawnte-_v1_sy1000_cr007071000_al_

A couple have a kid who is weird and can’t stop brushing her hair. Is she autistic, or the devil? Spoiler alert: It’s that second thing.

So this is basically a found-footage hipster version of The Omen. While not the most original idea, or even slightly original, it does a pretty good job of being creepy and actually works, for the most part. They really needed to cut back on the cricket sounds in the background though, really freakin’ annoying. No boobs but still worth a look.

Free Fall (6/10)

mv5bmji0mjq1mdmxnv5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjawntk0mje-_v1_sy1000_cr007091000_al_

So this chick who likes to kickbox works for Malcolm McDowell’s financial company and finds that he’s involved in embezzling from pension funds. Old Malc sends in a hired killer to take her out. She gets stuck in an elevator while escaping. No way for her to get out, no way for him to get in. And so forth.

Decent little thriller. Nothing super-special, but some of the elevator shenanigans were fairly original. Sarah Butler, playing the kickboxing chick, has some great moves in a short skirt, but keeps the boobs holstered.

American Poltergeist (3/10)

mv5bmtgznza0mdmznv5bml5banbnxkftztgwndi0mdm1nte-_v1_sy1000_cr006991000_al_

A bunch of college kids, including some short-shorts-wearing co-eds, rent a fancy lake house for the semester. The owner of the house is a creepy blonde woman with a flat affect who speaks in terse sentences that tend to exclude articles.

One of the bubble-headed co-eds apparently has a connection to the house, and is having nightmares about a woman committing suicide and people getting chopped up in the basement. She hits the internets to try to get the scoop on the house and why it’s mojoing her. Turns out, her family name is Borden, and some very bad things happened in the house a long time ago. But please, don’t axe her about it!

This movie has the acting and production values of your average porno. Unfortunately, they forgot to include the sex and nudity. This must be some sort of made for basic cable type of thing. It was almost bad enough to be funny, but it couldn’t quite get there. Oh, one thing: I was browsing IMDb reviews and there was one positive one that pointed out that this movie passes the Bechdel Test. I guess if that sort of thing is more important to you than acting, writing, directing, and photography, this is the movie for you!

Dreamland (5/10)

mv5bmtg5mji5mtyzm15bml5banbnxkftztcwmtqzmjgymq-_v1_

A trashy white couple are driving through Nevada when they encounter UFO nuts, timewarps, a holographic WW2 soldier, a creepy ghost girl, and Alien Hitler. Weirdo super-low-budget sci-fi weirdness. Best line: “Elvis, isn’t he dead?”

So, I really have no idea what happened in this movie. Well, I have some idea, but it still doesn’t really make any sense. In any case, it was goofy enough to be sort of entertaining. Worth a watch I guess, but I watched it, so you probably don’t need to. And yet again, no boobs. What’s wrong with filmmakers these days?

Choose (5/10)

mv5bmtc4oti2mdgzm15bml5banbnxkftztcwmjazndy3na-_v1_sy1000_cr006731000_al_

Basically Sophie’s Choice: Special Serial Killer Edition. Intense opening scene where a teenager is forced by a home invader to choose between killing her mom or her dad. Dad volunteers to get it in the chest of course (yay disposable men!) Cut to plucky young reporter with bigly sweater monkeys and a cop dad. She’s hot… on the trail of the You-Choose-You-Lose Killer. And apparently she smells like apples according to random creepy guy. More choices, more dead or disfigured victims. Soon the trail leads back to something from the killer’s past that ties all the random victims together.

This is mostly a police procedural, though somewhat light on police and procedure. And the investigating is really just running down some clues from the Forced Dichotomy Boogeyman, who turns out to be a whiny little bitch. And, to add insult to injury, the monkeys stay in the sweater. Overall, watchable but nothing you haven’t seen before, assuming you’ve watched some movies that are similar to this one.

The Thing (7/10)

mv5bmtmxmji0mzuynl5bml5banbnxkftztcwnjc1nze5nq-_v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_

I avoided this when it first came out since I thought it was just another opportunistic remake of a classic movie (the irony being, of course, that 1982’s The Thing was also a remake of a classic movie, but we’ll ponder that another time). Two things made me decide to go back and check it out: It’s more of a prequel than a remake (despite having the same title), and it was written by Eric Heisserer, who wrote 2016’s “Arrival”, which looks to be quite good.

So, this does indeed explore the events preceding “The Thing” (1982), covering the finding of an alien spaceship and the accidental release of the alien survivor. While certainly not as good as the 1982 movie, it is a solid action/horror with some very creepy effects, which were an odd blend of practical and CGI. Definitely well-made and worth a watch, it captures at least some of the claustrophobia and creepiness of the 1982 “The Thing”.